The Headless Way
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Commentary by Richard Lang

Obviously for others you are not headless! You also stand the normal way up like everybody else - your head at the top, then your torso, followed by your legs and feet at the bottom.


But consider your own point of view – are you different?

I am.

From my point of view my body is headless. It is also upside down, with my feet towards the top of my field of vision, above the rest of my body! Below my feet I see my legs, and then below them my tummy and then my chest - which then fades out. Here at the bottom of my field of vision is my bottom line.

Below this line, what do I find? My chest fades out into nothing! A vast abyss - boundless and empty.

And yet, it’s not simply empty - it’s also full. Of what?

It is full of everything that’s above the bottom line.

Have a look for yourself. Is your body also headless?

Are your feet towards the top of your field of vision and your chest at the bottom – if so, your body is upside down!

Bring your attention down to the region where your body fades out – at the bottom of your field of vision. What is below this bottom line? Anything at all?

And what is above it?

In this map Douglas Harding illustrates that above the bottom line is the whole world. Emerging from the bottom line, in the nearest region, is one’s own headless body. Above and beyond your headless body is the region of other people, including your image in the mirror, and then, above and beyond this layer, is the rest of life and the rest of the planet, then other planets, other stars, other galaxies… The whole universe is above your bottom line.

Being Awake means not overlooking the mystery below your bottom line – this no-thingness. It is seeing and being What you really are - the abyss from which the world uprushes into being like a geyser bursting from the ground. Though the ground of your being is not a thing, it comes up with all things.

From this point of view - the First Person point of view - I am creating this world: without knowing how I do it, without making any effort, without knowing quite what is going to burst forth next from below the bottom line. Look! This moment is exploding into being from within you.

Living The First Person Life

To be aware of what is below your bottom line as well as what is above it, is to live a profoundly different life from the “merely human” life. It is, amazingly, to live God’s life. This is of course an inner life, a secret life - no one else sees your bottom line, no one else sees you conjuring the world out of nothing! You know full well that for others you are not God! You don’t confuse your individual identity, your appearance, with your deepest identity, your innermost reality.

But which of these two lives is your direct experience, and which is hearsay and second-hand? Which is appearance, which is reality? Which is the life you are actually living?

What difference does it make in your life when you are aware of What is below your bottom line? Find out! Discover how you deal with situations when you realize they are emerging from your own being. Your being is not a product of the world but its Origin. In other words, you are not, in your heart of hearts, an appearance, a right-way-up headed person – a product of the world, a thing amongst things, closed and limited, a victim of circumstance… You are the Origin, the Alone, the Source from which all things flow. Awareness of this makes all the difference.

Take self-esteem for example: What greater remedy for low self-esteem than discovering this unlimited power and glory within you? A discovery that is naturally accompanied by humility and self-acceptance, for though your inner power and glory are astonishing, they are not something you as a person can take credit for. They do not increase your human status one iota. You can neither show your divinity to others, nor demonstrate your power outwardly. I remember Douglas Harding relating how he was giving a workshop to a group of young kids. He quoted Meister Eckhart who said, simply, "God's in, I'm out." One young boy, hearing this, commented: "And it doesn't make you proud!"

Douglas Harding:

I end downwards, at the bottom of the scene, in a Blank that’s unoccupied and imageless and unimaginable, in absolutely nothing whatever. Here, completing my submission to the evidence, I come to the most overlooked and underrated spot in the world, the place that’s replaced with No-place, the Terminus of termini, unique, baffling, the Mystery that’s more than worthy of my humblest obeisance. All other places and objects I come across are set on all sides against a background. Somewhere or other they stop and something else begins: however big, they are encompassed within a perimeter – sharp or blurred – where they end and their environment begins. All except this magic shirt I’m wearing. It’s as if some transcendental moth had been at it all along the neckline. Indeed this is the gnawing of no creature but the gnawing mystery of creation itself, of WHERE caught redhanded popping up out of NO-WHERE, of WHAT popping up – a divine Jack-in-the-box – out of NO-WHAT. All things above this Ultimate Bottom Line – those toy shoes up there, those truncated trunks, that pelmet-shirt itself on three of its four sides – all are normal inasmuch as they rest on something. Those are things that I can handle, that I have taped, that lie well within my capacity. But This defeats me. Here I’ve come to something that rests on no support, on a gap. Now this is irregular, abnormal, absurd – terms altogether too weak to do justice to such an Oddity. Here is the Line which underwrites and underscores all things, and is itself underwritten and underscored by a total White-out, by What’s conspicuous by its absence. Above it, the world; below it not so much as a dust-grain – nor (and this is the point here) room for one. (Head Off Stress)

No longer so damned cocksure I know what it's like being me, I dare to start all over again and bow before the evidence - actually as well as metaphorically. I bend and bow so deeply that I come to the very edge of me and my world, to the Bottom Line it all arises from. A frontier that doesn't prevent me from gazing past it and in to the Infinite Source of All, brilliantly on display yet awesomely mysterious. (The Trial of the Man who said he was God)

Continue with another experiment


Again I’m within myself. I walked away, but here I come sailing back, feet in the air, upside-down, as a saint when he opens his eyes from prayer: Now. The room, the tablecloth, familiar faces… Listen, if you can stand to. Union with the Friend means not being who you’ve been, being instead silence: a place: a view where language is inside seeing. Rumi

Man is in appearance a derivative of the world, but intrinsically the origin of the world. Rumi

Within my own being I gaze upon the Creator of the world… and I unite myself with Him. Simeon the New Theologian

The soul has a light in her with which she creates all things. Eckhart

A monk asked Ch'ang-sha: "How can you turn mountains and rivers and the earth into Self?"
"How can you turn Self into mountains and rivers and the earth?" returned the Master.

Whosoever finds (Love), finds Nothing and All Things; that is also certain and true. But how finds he Nothing? Why, I will tell thee how. He that findeth it, findeth a Supernatural Supersensual Abyss, which hath no Ground or Byss to stand on, and where there is no Place to dwell in; and he findeth also Nothing is like unto it, and therefore it may fitly be compared to Nothing; for it is deeper than any Thing, and is as Nothing with Respect to All Things, forasmuch as it is not comprehensible by any of them. And because it is Nothing respectively, it is therefore free from All Things; and is that only Good, which a Man cannot express or utter what it is; there being Nothing to which it may be compared, to express it by. Jacob Boehme

How can a world be contained in the clay of the body? How should a heaven be contained in the earth? God forfend! Thou art beyond this world both in thy lifetime and at the present hour. Rumi

I have no concern for my composite form. I no longer have colour or tangibility or size; I am a stranger to all these things. Now you see me, my child, with your eyes, but cannot understand what I am by staring at me. Hermetica


I met Douglas, some 20 years ago, in Stockholm. He was conducting a workshop that changed my life. His name was at the top of my list for a search when I was starting surfing the Web a couple of days ago. To my surprise he was still around. He must be 90 something! It’s been an interesting (to put it mildly) process since I lost my head. Difficult to talk about with my friends. It has completely changed my stand in life. Or should I say it has put me firmly up-side-down. Before I was unfirmly down-side-up. M.E. Sweden.

Continue with another experiment

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